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Quakers
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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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Quakers
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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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  • Many pamphlets pro and con were publish’d on the subject, and some by good Quakers, in favour of defense, which I believe convinc’d most of their younger people.
  • I joined them, and thereby was led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers near the market.
  • Mr. Andrew Hamilton, a famous lawyer of Philadelphia, had taken passage in the same ship for himself and son, and with Mr. Denham, a Quaker merchant, and Messrs.
  • At Newport we took in a number of passengers for New York, among which were two young women, companions, and a grave, sensible, matron-like Quaker woman, with her attendants.
  • Walking down again toward the river, and, looking in the faces of people, I met a young Quaker man, whose countenance I lik’d, and, accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get lodging.
  • The company consisted of thirty members, of which twenty-two were Quakers, and eight only of other persuasions.
  • We eight punctually attended the meeting; but, tho’ we thought that some of the Quakers would join us, we were by no means sure of a majority.
  • Only one Quaker, Mr. James Morris, appear’d to oppose the measure.
  • I went down, and found they were two of our Quaker members.
  • Breintnal particularly procur’d us from the Quakers the printing forty sheets of their history, the rest being to be done by Keimer; and upon this we work’d exceedingly hard, for the price was low.
  • It was in favor of liberty of conscience, and in behalf of the Baptists, Quakers, and other sectaries that had been under persecution, ascribing the Indian wars, and other distresses that had befallen the country, to that persecution, as so many judgments of God to punish so heinous an offense, and exhorting a repeal of those uncharitable laws.
  • This gave the clergy of the different sects an opportunity of influencing their congregations to join in the association, and it would probably have been general among all but Quakers if the peace had not soon interven’d.
  • Their captain prepar’d for defense; but told William Penn and his company of Quakers, that he did not expect their assistance, and they might retire into the cabin, which they did, except James Logan, who chose to stay upon deck, and was quarter’d to a gun.
  • My DEAREST SIR: When I had read over your sheets of minutes of the principal incidents of your life, recovered for you by your Quaker acquaintance, I told you I would send you a letter expressing my reasons why I thought it would be useful to complete and publish it as he desired.
  • My being many years in the Assembly, the majority of which were constantly Quakers, gave me frequent opportunities of seeing the embarrassment given them by their principle against war, whenever application was made to them, by order of the crown, to grant aids for military purposes.
  • They were unwilling to offend government, on the one hand, by a direct refusal; and their friends, the body of the Quakers, on the other, by a compliance contrary to their principles; hence a variety of evasions to avoid complying, and modes of disguising the compliance when it became unavoidable.
  • To avoid this kind of embarrassment, the Quakers have of late years been gradually declining the public service in the Assembly and in the magistracy, choosing rather to quit their power than their principle.
  • These embarrassments that the Quakers suffer’d from having establish’d and published it as one of their principles that no kind of war was lawful, and which, being once published, they could not afterwards, however they might change their minds, easily get rid of, reminds me of what I think a more prudent conduct in another sect among us, that of the Dunkers.
  • Being returned to Philadelphia, I found the association went on swimmingly, the inhabitants that were not Quakers having pretty generally come into it, formed themselves into companies, and chose their captains, lieutenants, and ensigns, according to the new law.
  • I had been active in modelling the bill and procuring its passage, and had, at the same time, drawn a bill for establishing and disciplining of a voluntary militia, which I carried thro’ the House without much difficulty, as care was taken in it to leave the Quakers at their liberty.
  • With respect to defense, Spain having been several years at war against Great Britain, and being at length join’d by France, which brought us into great danger; and the laboured and long-continued endeavour of our governor, Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker Assembly to pass a militia law, and make other provisions for the security of the province, having proved abortive, I determined to try what might be done by a voluntary association of the people.
  • Your Quaker correspondent, sir (for here again I will suppose the subject of my letter resembling Dr. Franklin), praised your frugality, diligence and temperance, which he considered as a pattern for all youth; but it is singular that he should have forgotten your modesty and your disinterestedness, without which you never could have waited for your advancement, or found your situation in the mean time comfortable; which is a strong lesson to show the poverty of glory and the…
  • Not one of his opposing friends appear’d, at which he express’d great surprize; and, at the expiration of the hour, we carry’d the resolution eight to one; and as, of the twenty-two Quakers, eight were ready to vote with us, and thirteen, by their absence, manifested that they were not inclin’d to oppose the measure, I afterward estimated the proportion of Quakers sincerely against defense as one to twenty-one only; for these were all regular members of that society, and in good…
  • …and, at the expiration of the hour, we carry’d the resolution eight to one; and as, of the twenty-two Quakers, eight were ready to vote with us, and thirteen, by their absence, manifested that they were not inclin’d to oppose the measure, I afterward estimated the proportion of Quakers sincerely against defense as one to twenty-one only; for these were all regular members of that society, and in good reputation among them, and had due notice of what was propos’d at that meeting.
  • My list of virtues contain’d at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my pride show’d itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc’d me by mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added Humility to my list,…
  • One of his friends, who sat next to me, says, "Franklin, why do you continue to side with these damn’d Quakers?
  • ] It was in allusion to this fact that, when in our fire company we feared the success of our proposal in favour of the lottery, and I had said to my friend Mr. Syng, one of our members, "If we fail, let us move the purchase of a fire-engine with the money; the Quakers can have no objection to that; and then, if you nominate me and I you as a committee for that purpose, we will buy a great gun, which is certainly a fire-engine."

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  • Quakers are known for their pacifism.

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